"What NYU has done is not just change for the better its immediate surroundings in the Village; it’s NYU that gave rise to the shift of the cultural and social center of Manhattan south of 14th Street." So says NYU board chair Marty Lipton in Gabriel Sherman's epic telling of the NYU expansion controversy in the pages of New York magazine. For those who don't agree with the sentiment that NYU giveth life to downtown Manhattan, there are plenty of anti-NYU zingers from the Greenwich Village crowd as well (says one NIMBY, "I remember the Village with Bob Dylan on the bus, Mick Jagger at the Lone Star. All it is now is NYU kids texting and walking into you wherever you go.") But seriously, folks, after all the sign-waving rallies, newspaper op-eds and raucous community board meetings, what is there left to say about NYU 2031? Plenty!
Sherman's story kind of makes NYU's six-million-square-foot growth seem inevitable, but a lot of people think that the first major part of that expansion?the 38-story hotel/faculty condo building that would be the tallest tower in all the Village?hangs on the opinion of one senior citizen. And he hasn't made up his mind yet.
Both NYU and chief NYU critic Andrew Berman (of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation) have tried to lure architect I.M. Pei over to their side. Pei designed the landmarked Silver Towers triplets where NYU now wants to add the 38-story building, and it's believed that Pei could sway the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which must approve the design. "One word from Pei could have killed the whole thing," an NYU source told Sherman, but the school dodged a bullet when Pei's only request was that they clean the Picasso statue on the site. But not so fast! Pei's homey Henry Cobb now says Pei will "comment at the appropriate time" on the design, and he could be against it. Drama!
While we wait for I.M. Pei to think things over, do click through to Sherman's piece for the scariest examination into NYU's plans for world domination yet, if only for more gems like: "This is kind of a Jane Jacobs versus Robert Moses fight of the gods." Gird your loins!
· The School That Ate New York [NYM]
· NYU Expansion coverage [Curbed]